Being a psychology student, ‘Instant Gratification’ is a term that I come across most often. So I did some googling to know more about it. It read, ‘Instant (or immediate) gratification is a term that refers to the temptation, and resulting tendency, to forego a future benefit in order to obtain a less rewarding but more immediate benefit.’
Musing further, the ‘Pleasure principle’ seems to be the driving force of the id to seek instant gratification of all our wants, needs, urges.
Before we dwell further, wondering what is id? The id drives us to fulfill our basic urges and needs as quick as possible. In layman words, it is the child within a person — innate drives of our behavior. Id works on the pleasure or pain principle.
But what is Pleasure principle? When we strive to fulfill our most basic and primitive urges, such as hunger, thirst, anger, and sex, it is the result of the pleasure principle. When such needs are not met, we end up in a state of anxiety or tension.
I won’t sugar coat it — saying NO to immediate gratification is no easy feat. We are more pleased by the thought of pleasure even if it means long term pain/damage. When we are consumed with our desire for immediate pleasure or satisfaction, we rarely make decisions that benefit our long-term future. And this affects everything around us from our purchasing pattern to our daily emotions.
This instant gratification mentality has changed our mindsets in countless impatient ways. But a particularly interesting one is the effect that the 21st century way of thinking has had on relationships and, ultimately, commitment.
If we can’t fix it immediately, we may consider it forever broken.
Aren’t we such a spoilt, impatient bunch!
The modern motto on instant gratification
“Why wait when we can have it now?” seems to be the modern motto. But when applied to relationships we can see how we are inviting long term pain and problems in our lives.
As cliché as it sounds: relationships generally need time and efforts to build, grow and flourish. Ahh.. I know chemistry is a good start. But don’t you still want to know the other person? What they like or don’t like, what they’re passionate about, what makes them upset, how they react to different things over time, how you respond to each other in different situations, etc.
But if you’ve picked your partner mostly for their beauty, what do you have when they’re not as attractive anymore?
Apparently, the dating apps do not take this into account. The biggest problem with instant gratification is, we start believing that the “perfect match” will appear right on our screen and that true happiness is just a click away. It’s all a nice fantasy to read about, but does it really work in reality?
Most times we want to be right, or have the last word of an argument or get things our way. We want to be able to respond instead of react. The moment things start going south, we want to call it off . The moment our partner does not accept on our perspective, we want to jump to conclusions that they were never meant to be in the first place.
The spark of romance no longer seems to be the idea to be there for one another at the lowest or willing to be a bigger person and overcome the short comings of each other. We somehow expect tailor made partners who best fits our puppeteer mind — our needs and expectations.
But is that the narration of our grandparent’s love story?
The secret of staying together is staying together.
To make an ideal couple, there is a need to learn to work on the relationship before giving up. Expect it to take some time to heal and get better. And, the reward of being in a long-term relationship will be totally worth the patience.
It is very important to recognize that your mate has a different way of doing things and work with those differences to get what you want. It may not be instant, but trust me, if you are patient and understanding you can grow as a couple.
Save the instant gratification for fun and entertainment. Serious love takes serious commitment. We have become a ‘hurry up and microwave it’ world where its’ about instant results, instant gratification and not applied effort.
But not everything has an ‘Easy’ button.
Knowing how to delay pleasure is an effort to serve a more important and gratifying goal makes all the difference in achieving them.
The old phrase “fools rush in where angels fear to tread” comes to mind.
It’s not rocket science
Learning how to delay the impulse for immediate pleasure in favor of long-term satisfaction is a skill required for incremental and long-term growth. Making conscious choices that allow you to live in alignment with your deepest values often requires the ability to delay gratification.
For a relationship, trust is a key component in delayed gratification which is a foundation of relationships. Delayed gratification can strengthen relationships, heighten intelligence, and make us healthier.
Don’t worry — a little instant gratification now and then won’t hurt! Only if you find yourself constantly choosing the immediate over the long-term, you might be struggling with an instant gratification bias. It becomes problematic, only when people start to solely rely on it for their all-round happiness.
I would suggest googling The Marshmallow Test. There is a tremendous amount of information on studies stemming from the original research.